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Chicken Salad

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten.  [Recipe makes 6 servings].

I'm often asked what my favorite food is, or what types of dishes I would put on my menu should I ever open up a place of my own.  And although a whole list of possibilities comes to mind, chicken salad seems to incorporate everything I'm looking for in the perfect dish.  Ingredient-wise, it's simplistic, but when it comes to appearance, flavor, and texture, there's quite a bit going on.  Start out with some perfectly cooked and seasoned chicken, add a touch of sweetness from some grapes, a bit of crunch and freshness from diced celery, a nice bite and aroma from some fresh tarragon, and just enough mayonnaise to tie everything together and you've got quite an elegant (but approachable) dish.  Serve it on a freshly made croissant with a side of salted potato chips and I promise you'll be in heaven.

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds chicken breasts, brined and patted dry
3/4 cups mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
1 cup celery, sliced lengthwise and chopped
1 cup green grapes, halved, or 1 Granny Smith apple, cubed
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 400° F.  Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper or a baking mat.  Lightly grease with a non-stick spray, and evenly space the chicken breasts on the sheet.  Season the chicken with Kosher salt and pepper.  Tent the chicken with either aluminum foil or parchment paper, and bake for 30 minutes, or until the chicken registers 165° F in its thickest part; flip the breasts halfway through the baking process.  Remove from the oven and let the chicken cool down.

While the chicken is cooling, combine the mayonnaise, tarragon, celery, grapes (or apples), 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, and black pepper in a large mixing bowl.  Once the chicken is cooled down, shred.  Toss with the other ingredients and season to taste.

Cover the salad with plastic wrap and let it cool for several hours in the refrigerator before serving.  For a nice freshness, incorporate some fresh lemon juice right before serving.

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